Rhythm in the medical ritual texts: mythology and semantics of discourse

A. Temchenko


Introduction. Traditionally, the study of poetic rhythm is the prerogative of the literature and relates to copyright works. However, rhythm is an important part of the medical text, the pronunciation of which must obey certain rules, because it is the result of collective myth-making. The accenting of certain words determines their priority of ritual, which gives the possibility to reconstruct the ones important from the point of view of myth, the meanings of which are rooted not so much in mythopoetic images as intonation characteristics.

Interpretation of rhythm as the mythological category is an unexplored aspect in the field of cultural anthropology. The present article is an attempt at implementing the ideas of Henri Masonn, in particular the perception of the text as a whole «primary substance», which concentrates all the senses.

Purpose. Adjusting the intensity of the rhythm is an integral part of the therapeutic ritual and serves as an effective method of mental suggestion / hypnosis. The purpose of this article is to explore the function of the rhythm ritual and medical texts, in particular, its practical aspects and its semantics by reconstructing the mythological values of the individual elements of the discourse.

Results. An important factor in the therapeutic rite is «right» and rhythmic soundtrack. Uneven rhythmic organization of the stops in the incantation allows one to vary the recitative rhythm depending on the «needs» of the rite. The location of the accent, as a rule, performs semantic function, highlighting the key aspects from the point of view of ritual, of magic.

In the research process, we identified some scene of rhythmic periods that correspond to the text split on motives: 1. «Exposure» prior to the commencement of deployment of the plot / implementation of the rite. Provides mythological description of the place and time of the meeting. Has a regular / steady rhythm, because the model structure itself is a «sound» model of the static structure of space and time, naming the location of the main elements of the cosmic landscape and the runtime magic. 2. The images of the «sacred helpers» have a different number of stressed syllables since they have various ceremonial functions. 3. «Ritual action» is characterized by an intense rhythm with strong accents on vowels loud syllables that enhances the expression of the text. Accents are put on important words with the value of medical-magical practices, namely «unlocking» of the body, the destruction of «evil eye / fright», the burning of the roses, sending a snake. 4. «Causes of disease», irrespective of place, time, object have similar rhythm, two or three theses are unstressed. It coincides with rhythmic periods, the naming of bodily organs, from which the disease is sent. The rhythm of «reasons» borders on semantics otherworldliness, so rhythmically they remind the place where they return, including swamps, sand, forest, jungle, rocks and the like. Descriptions of the other world, the mention of the dead is characterized by unstressed / nonmetrical rhythm, induce a definitive abatement / the recreation of dead silence, the destruction of disease at the level of the sound. 5. «Formula for destruction» may take the form of parallelisms, where the first part duplicates the other not only in meaning but rhythmically as well. Consequently, there is absolute equality of the two parts. Thus, there are two major principles of rhythm treatment of texts aimed at the restoration of life or destruction of the disease.

Conclusion. With changing rhythmic periods the information that the patient needs to «hear» also changes, since the rhythm is the ordering of the audio signals governing the reading of the text. Important is the beginning of a chant, which is often marked by strong / stressed vowels, confirming the presence of a higher power, sanctifying the time and place of performing the rite: the reduction of the number of the stress inherent in the texts for mental illness and is treated as a therapeutic effect, its levelling is a means of destroying the «other names» of dangerous diseases. But the rhythmic utterance of his own name should add to the magical influence of its bearer (the Holy / the patient).

The rhythmic and sound variations of ritual text form the binary system of coordinates are implemented as opposed to the mythological «top» and «bottom». Thus, the presentation of the sacred «top» at the expense of an intensification of rhythm and increasing frequency of semantic accents, but of the demonic «bottom» shows the opposite of the rhythmic indicators, manifested in the leveling of linguistic expression.

Hypothetical is the thesis about the existence of mythological and rhythmic sound picture of the world, the vestiges of which appear in ritual speech. Key components of this image comply with certain rhythms that are reproduced by the performer of the rite. The emphasis on certain parts of the text are implemented with the aim of «harmonization» with the myth, in particular an ordered space (mountains, sea, sky) and the «first» time (the first beat). As a consequence, the disease is perceived as imbalance of the static structure, so its rhythm is leveled (cause of illness / a place of its dislocation is characterized by a monotonous rhythm). But the treatment process (return to life), the exile / destruction of the disease is characterized by a strengthening of rhythmic and sound expression. 


myth, rhythm, ritual healing, stress, text, sound, magic


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